Despite an electric atmosphere early on, the Sixers fell to a 99-71 defeat in the teams home opener against the Utah Jazz.
The team came out swinging in front of the Sixers loyal and perhaps the biggest positive coming out of the game was Nik Stauskas, who made his debut and kicked things off with an early three pointer. He ended 3 for 6 in a limited 21 minutes of play and tied Jerami with 12 points to lead what was otherwise an Offense that was simply too slow.
The team started well but it all fell apart as they veered towards the end of the first half. After going in trailing 50-33, the Jazz were able to mount a dominant 13-0 stretch with no answer from the home team.
The Sixers as a whole hit just 11 shots out of 40 from the paint and committed 19 turnovers. The Offense is supposed to be fast and furious but was only able to put up seven fastbreak points. Play appeared to be sloppy and disjointed with lack of execution being oh so crucial. Isaiah Caanan went 1-9 from the field with Noel going 2-for-12. There was simply a lack of a finished product on Offense with some inspiring Defensive efforts thwarted by sloppy ball movement…very sloppy.
Which brings us to our next point. In a game of 19 turnovers, one would expect a large portion to come from Jahlil Okafor after his pre-season tendencies but only two were on his behalf which is a huge improvement against such a stern opponent. Big Jah went 4-for-12 and scored 10 points to follow up his explosive NBA debut, picking up six rebounds along the way. Not only that but he had a great run against Rudy Gobert late on in the fourth..asserting his dominance for an extensive period of time.
An impressive game, but if he could show more energy from start to finish then he would be almost unstoppable..it’s a lot to ask and obviously we cannot expect perfection, but if Okafor could find away to be as aggressive as he was early on during the final quarter then he could easily be a contender for rookie of the year.
His partner in crime also followed up a good performance with an impressive home opener. Nerlens Noel’s double-double was succeeded by eight points and ten rebounds…not a bad night at all.
T.J. McConnell ended atop of the team with four assists coming off the bench for the second time running despite some poor decisions and streaky play.
Flaws are obvious and you have to feel that this team would be challenging for a win if they had a star Point-Guard. But progress is being made no doubt. A game high in points for Grant alongside the shortened debut of Stauskas, Okafor’s impressive entrance to the NBA and Noel’s consistency are all pointing towards a more successful year than the last, especially considering they are still heavily shorthanded.
Yes the team fell in a rut early on and could not climb out of it like we saw so often last year but the difference is that this team played much harder and appeared to show some belief. It’s a shame losses like this are coming this early but the Sixers are still shorthanded and it’s going to be rough until the guys grow. Stauskas dribbled much better than I anticipated, looked better defensively than I anticipated, shot very well and passed accurately…this is not doom and gloom. It’s a case of everybody adjusting and waiting for the right pieces to fall into place. There were parts of this game that showed flashes of an insanely bright future and other times where you wondered if any progress had been made at all..but the truth is, this team is an entirely different unit to what we saw last season and whilst the overall package may not reflect that just yet..the individual performances of the bigs and the new guys most certainly are.